It all began in 1998 when Ken and Kimm Schick bought an old dairy farm with over 200 acres in Fultonville, NY. They came from Northwestern NJ, a farming community that was slowly being sold off to developers and built up. They came to upstate NY to escape the noise and traffic that came with this development and get back to the country living and fell in love with this piece of heaven that has since become Hummingbird Hills Winery.
Ken and Kimm planned to retire up on the farm and always knew they would have a “working retirement” but they had no idea what that would be. They both have a passion for wine and wine tasting and made many trips to the Finger Lakes Region over the years, so something to do with grapes and wine seemed a good choice. The original plan was to grow the grapes and ship them to other wineries but as you can see plans change!
In 2001 Ken and Kimm painstakingly planted 1200 grape vines by hand! There was a lot of work involved in getting those old cow pastures prepped and ready for planting, placing trellis wire and posts for the vines to grow on. For the most part Ken and Kimm did all of this work by themselves with some help from friends and family along the way. Over the years they continued to add more vines and more varieties until today they have approximately 22,000 grape vines spread over 26 acres.
They decided which vines to grow by planting test crops to see which vines would do well in the climate and soil in Montgomery County. Working with the people from Double A Vinyards (where many of the vines are purchased) they were able to pick winter hardy grapes that could survive the harsh winters. Most grape vines have a growing stage of 3-5 years. There are many grapes they would love to grow that just cannot survive a Montgomery County winter.
Finally in 2008 the vines produced enough grapes to make some wine! As a child, Ken, made wine and spirits with his German grandpa and his father so Ken and Kimm decided to make the wine here and Hummingbird Hills Winery became a reality. They had a big beautiful cow barn with plenty of room for processing and selling the wine so they got to work!
They set out to transform the old cow barn into a winery, again they did all this work on their own without any backing or financing from outside agencies and on a shoestring budget they started to shape this dream into a reality.
In 2010 the winery was ready to open, during the building phase an even more difficult and tedious process was happening to complete the many forms and jump through all the right hoops to be licensed by the State of New York to operate as a winery. Most of this work was done on weekends and holidays as Ken and Kimm were still living in NJ and operating a business there as well. The business in NJ financed their dream of a winery in NY and they had to keep it going strong.
Fast forward to current times, Ken and Kimm are now working full time on their business and could not be happier. They are the first active winery in Montgomery County and are proud to say that all of their wines are produced here in Montgomery County at the winery. They are very proud to say that the fruits used to produce the wine are also grown right on the farm, grapes, elderberries, apples and let’s not forget Dandelion! Hummingbird Hills offers several specialty wines, Eldeberry Delight, Lions Tooth Blend, several varieties of apple and many delicious grape wines. They use as little preservative as possible to bring out the natural flavor of the grapes or fruit in the fermenting process. The vineyards may not be the prettiest around but that is because they do not use chemicals on or around the grape vines. The fields having once been cow pastures were well fertilized and there are some weeds to contend with.
Their name Hummingbird Hills comes from their love affair with the hummingbirds and they have many that keep them company at the winery. Their tag line is “Escape from the Normal” and they mean it. Hummingbird Hills Wine is not like most wines you will taste, they have many unique blends and flavors. The atmosphere is very rustic and homey; you will enjoy spending an afternoon among friends pulled up to the bar.
As for the future we look forward to many years of wine making and growing and giving back to the community that we love so much and has been so good to us!